Mugwort was always considered to be a good country cure for fatigue and mugwort leaves were put into the shoes when walking to save the feet from getting weary.
Mugwort, artemisia vulgaris, is a stiff-stemmed aromatic perennial herb, commonly found growing wild along country lanes and hedgerows. It is easy to recognize from its reddish stems and deeply cut leaves which are dark green above and covered with a silvery down on the underside. The insignificant little flowers are a dull yellow and grow in long spikes at the top of the stem. They flower from July to September and have a lovely strong scent. The leaves have no scent. From a distance mugwort looks very like common wormwood but on closer inspection the leaves of mugwort are sharply pointed and only downy on the underside, whereas the wormwood leaf is blunt ended and covered all over in down.
In the kitchen, mugwort is a savoury herb which can be used to bring out the flavours of rich meats, poultry and game and make them easier to digest. Mugwort is a strong-flavoured herb and needs to be used with care. It is also a useful moth repellent and small bags of mugwort mixed with other herbs can be laid amongst clothes or hung in cupboards (closets).
Mugwort can be grown in ordinary garden soil and is propagated by cuttings taken in the spring or root division of an established plant in autumn or spring.
The leaves and flowering tips are the parts used. The leaves are gathered for drying before the flowers appear, and the flowering tips while in bud. They are dried and stored separately in the usual way.
Mugwort is said to assist in the digestion of rich foods and in stimulating a poor appetite. It can be taken as tea twice a day before meals. It should not be drunk over a long period of time. Mugwort tea is made using dried or fresh flowering buds only.
* To make mugwort tea: Pour a cup of boiling water over 1 teaspoon of mugwort and leave to infuse for 10 minutes. Strain and sweeten with honey.
Mugwort oil is effective on rheumaticky joints.
* To make mugwort oil: Put a cup of sunflower oil in an enamel pan and add a handful of fresh or dried mugwort leaves. Bring slowly to the boil and simmer until the leaves are crisp. Strain into stoppered bottles and store in the cool. Smooth the oil on the joints.
Mugwort infusion is good for tired and swollen feet.
* To make the infusion: Pour 4 cups of boiling water over 4 handfuls of mugwort buds. Leave to infuse for 10 minutes. Strain into a bowl, Plunge the feet into the infusion for at least 15 minutes. Afterwards dry the feet well and dust with dried and powdered mugwort. For painful blistered feet, apply the lotion with a cotton wool pad or ball.